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Monday, April 20, 2009

State should loosen red tape that restricts wind power

From an editorial in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram:

Clean Wisconsin is part of a coalition of dozens of groups - including environmentalists, labor unions, utilities such as Xcel Energy, and business representatives such as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce - that supports a soon-to-be-introduced bill that would require the state Public Service Commission to create statewide standards for wind projects. Under current law, local governments can block these projects for health or safety reasons - but those reasons aren't well-defined, which has led to blanket restrictions such as the one in Trempealeau County.

Critics likely will charge that the bill is an attack on local control. However, it still lets local governments make wind-siting decisions, and allows those who disagree with them to appeal to the PSC and the courts.

It's understandable that potential neighbors of any large project - including a wind farm - would be concerned about how it might impact their lives. However, the hum of a windmill or the flickering shadows it may create seem greatly preferable to the sulphurous fumes of a coal-fired plant or the potential deadly contamination of a nuclear reactor. Unless we redouble our efforts to pursue clean energy, those may be our only other options to keep the lights on.

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